Oh No, I’m 30, Now What?!

by Javacia Harris Bowser

I was so excited about turning 30.

While many of my friends were dreading this birthday (since for some ridiculous reason it denotes you’re now old and useless), I was counting down the days to my 30th and planning a weekend long celebration. I even created a vision board representing all the things I wanted to accomplish during this glorious decade.

My birthday came, my parties were fabulous and I got busy working on those goals.

Then something happened.

A few months ago I woke up utterly depressed about being in my 30s. And each day I felt more and more disheartened as I realized 31 was just around the corner.

What was going on with me? This wasn’t worry over wrinkles. I’m blessed with great genes (thanks, Mom) and I look much younger than I really am. I’m a live illustration of that old adage “Black don’t crack.” In gym clothes I’m often mistaken for a high school student. So running to the drug store to stock up on anti-aging creams was not the solution I needed.

One day I stood staring at my vision board and I burst into tears. After a nice, ugly cry I realized what was wrong with me. First of all, the goals on my list of lofty aspirations weren’t getting accomplished fast enough. And since I am 30 deep down, I feared I was running out of time.

Second, the life I imagined for my 30-year-old self when I was in my 20s looked nothing like the one I’m currently living. Most of the goals on my vision board are all those things I failed to achieve in my 20s. If I couldn’t do it then, I thought to myself, why do I think I can do it now?

Then I began to think back to why I was so excited about turning 30 in the first place. Yes, my 20s were adventurous and fun, but I was a mess. Life doesn’t become perfect at 30, but by then, you have a lot figured out. Though all your dreams haven’t come true, thanks to life experience, you have a pretty good idea of how to bring them to fruition. You know who you are, what you want and how to get it. Now it’s time to act.

In case you’re in an “OMG! I’m 30!” funk too, here are a few things that might help you get it together.

Ditch the deadlines. I had to let go of the unrealistic timeline I’d set for accomplishing my dreams. No, I’ll never be on one of those “30 Under 30” lists but that’s certainly no reason to throw in the towel.

Be thankful. Since I have such a love for lists I decided to make a few new ones. I made a list of all the things I have already accomplished and when I’m feeling down I pat myself on the back for those instead always dwelling on what I haven’t done yet. It’s important to be thankful for what we have and every day I’m grateful for things like my wonderful marriage, my master’s degree from UC Berkeley, and a stable income.

Celebrate the small stuff. I decided to take my daunting dreams and break them up into smaller, less intimidating goals and that I would rejoice over each tiny triumph.

What about you? Did you fall in a funk over turning 30? How’d you get over it? What are your aspirations for your 30s?

  • African Mami

    To start things off, that model’s bantu knots are the biznooz!

    Did you fall in a funk over turning 30?
    Fall?! I have been in a funk since birth. I am gerentophobic.

    How’d you get over it?
    Get over being 30?! I’m not even 30….and I am already funked the fugg out of turning 30.

    What are your aspirations for your 30s?
    That the trumpet call happens before then! That way, I won’t have to deal with the drama (between my reality and fantasy) of having probably realized my aspirations. Guess what, my aspirations are not very earthly friendly. So go figure!

  • http://Dawnavette.com Dawnavette

    YAS. Can relate to everything in this post especially the “ugly cry,” and feeling like I’ve not accomplished much in my 20′s (a lie fear uses to keep me stagnant). As I approach 30, 7.5 months and counting, I’m going to try and let go of the deadlines. Embrace how far I’ve come and genuinely look forward to what’s to come.

  • Mahogany

    I’ll be turning 30 in April so I can relate to the article a bit.
    I also used to think about what my life would be like at 30 and it’s nothing like I imagined to be. However, I have let go of the deadlines a long time ago. I only worry about the thibgs I can control, the rest is up to God.

    Before you tell yourself “I haven’t accomplished everything I said I would by 30 or whatever age”, look back at the thibgs that you did accomplish or the things that you thought you couldn’t do and actually did. Life is a journey, embrace it!

  • Mocha

    I can totally relate…I’m 29 and my birthday is right around the corner. I was a little excited about turning the big 3-0 in the begining. I had heard about the awakening some have and how life get’s better. But I also began to feel a little depressed about appoaching 30, knowing that I’d have to give up certain things and of course, not accomplishing certain goals. So as I approach 30, I’m hoping that things wil become clear to me and I will be able to accept me and the goals that I have achieved a little more. This was a great piece to read!

  • Natalie

    I didn’t have the blues about turning 30, with many of my personal, professional and academic goals un-accomplished, but I did have a slight uneasiness. Then, three months after my 30th birthday, unexpectedly, my mother died, and everything changed.

    I put things into perspective, and yes, I have some regrets about leaving some things un-done, but as I get ready to turn 34 in a few months, I’ve got to say that my thirties have taught me me patience, but more importantly trust–you will accomplish what you are supposed to accomplish in this life. This piece was a right on time in helping me remember that.

  • Mimi

    After reading everyone’s comments, I officially feel old as my 40th birthday is tomorrow!!!! JK. What’s weird is that I don’t feel weird about turning 40. Since I’m the youngest in my group of friends, they’d all been telling me about how they went through this crazy range of emotions when they turned 40 and I don’t feel anything. It’s just another day. As far as goals and accomplishments, I’ve gone back to college to earn a masters and since I’m older, I’m in a position financially to where I don’t have to worry about $200,000 worth of student loans when I graduate. Sure its a struggle, but anything in life worth having usually is a struggle and I’m okay with that.


  • African Mami

    @ Mimi,

    Happy Early Birthday! Have a blessed one.

  • Deech

    I was excited when I turned 30, and now that I have a few more years before 40, I can say that I’m loving my life’s journey.

  • overseashoneybee

    Not a huge difference after hitting 30 other than I began to focus on taking better care of myself. I plan to be stuntin’ till I’m 6 ft under. I was anxious about it but l gotta admit life is even better. I feel blessed because I know of so many who didn’t make it to see the big 3-0.

  • Deech

    Happy 40th Birthday, Mimi!!

  • secret ninja

    i turn 30 in two more years and i am so excited! turning 16,18,21, and 25 were all great and milestones for me, but i do feel like turing 30 will be something special. i can relate a lot to the article, especially about making lists (i love making lists, i have one for almost everything) and being mistaken for a high schooler, i’m always being congratulated on graduating when May/June comes around, i love the shocked look on people’s faces when i tell them i graduated almost ten years ago. thanks for this article, i have a lot of goals for myself too, and this article is reminder not to put too much pressure on myself to accomplish them or beat myself up if i don’t reach them by the deadline on my list.

  • AJ

    I was so excited turning 30, now I’m 32 and realized….my twenties sucked compared to my first two years embracing 30′s.
    My mother and sisters (whom are 11 years older) said your 30′s are the best.
    So, don’t fret if you have things you haven’t done. You’ll definately get it moving…trust

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Semaj-Dunson/625860135 Semaj Dunson

    30 has definitely put a perspective on things I want to accopmplish. I am very thankful for all the things I have achieved. I’ll be turning 31 in a few weeks.

  • Mimi

    Thanks for the great birthday wishes!

  • SweetT

    Fortunately I haven’t hit any kind of funk. I’ve been celebrating my 30th ALL YEAR with trips and various activities and it has been amazing! Am I 110% where I want to be, nope, but I knew even before 30 that my journey and destination was in greater hands so I am well on my way to the life I deserve. I’ve spent this year just loving and living life…and planning for 35 and 40! Can’t wait!

  • Whatever

    I’m a year and a half away from 30 and I sometimes dwell on the goals I set up in my early 20′s for where I wanted to be by 30… but I know far more now than I did at 21. What held priority then doesn’t really hold it now. Put things in perspective and enjoy life!

  • Celeste

    I think this best sums it up “I’m grateful for things like my wonderful marriage, my master’s degree from UC Berkeley, and a stable income.”

    Things like this gets the side-eye. Those all sound like you accomplished a lot. Who are you really fooling, lol.

    People can never be happy about anything. I was really hoping that someone was going to write an article and have “not” accomplish some of those things you posted.

    Sometimes I wonder why this site has so many bourgie, pompous, and naive writers.

  • Merch

    I’ve just faced the fact I am 31 and I unlike you look 31. So I’m stocking up on anti aging creams, fruits and veggies and vitamins, exercising more and making sure my affairs are in order in case I kick the bucket soon.

  • LJF

    Your twenties were a waste, your thirties is when you begin to get it, and you don’t understand any of this until you turn 40!

  • bosslady

    Yes, I thought the same thing…

  • Lisa

    CLUTCH!!! Why can’t I see the comments to this article? I’ve refreshed it several times thru out the day and still don’t see any comments. But on the home page, it says this article has over 15 comments. What’s the deal???

  • Anon1


  • Bunny

    I needed this. I’m not 30 yet (25 soon) but the closer I get, the more I feel like I have to hurry before it’s too late. Too late for what?

  • Coco

    OMG!!! You read my mind! The same exact thing happened to me. I’m so happy that there is someone else out there that felt the same way!

  • Ms_Cami

    This article is TRUTH!!

  • Lala718

    I just turn 30 on November 16 (this past Wednesday) and I swear this article was so on point. It made me realize that I should appreciate everything I have in the present and that life is not over. Thank you!!

  • Oshanae

    I also have turned 30 this year I guess I have been in a funk at times, but overall i am thankful. To have made this far, i was always been the shy and quiet one didnt party as much as most my age, etc. However I overcame personal ostacles, I have two college degrees, i left my hometown and currently set up my own place and i am working in this unstable economy which is a blessing in its self. I am blessed truly. Its no need to be sad about being thirty, it certain i have yet to acomplish, key word **yet** i know in due time they will be achieved. I think we do put to much pressure on a time limit that does not exist, just as the article make small goals and achieve them.

  • Mochacashmere

    I just turned 33 and I’m still depressed about it. It doesn’t get any better. Sorry…

  • http://Facebook Ponnie

    I was so excited to turn 30. I planned the biggest birthday party of my life and had it. There was only one problem though. I was alone and single when I turned 18. I was again single on my 21st. I was terrified and felt like a loser to turn the BIG 30 once again single. So I tried to force the one that was available into THE ONE.boy oh boy!did it backfire! But I LOVE being 30.

  • Golden Silence

    What’s wrong with looking 31? I never understood this issue with aging. I’m 30 and I hate getting mistaken for a kid, and I look forward to getting older. It shows that I’ve been living life!

  • Golden Silence

    I don’t understand this down feeling about aging. I’d rather age and live life instead of be dead.

  • http://www.artblt.com Shermika

    I’m not 30 (yet), but the advice you’ve given is perfect for any young woman. We must always embrace each year and thank God for them. Great article.

  • SShadow

    WOW…I wish I would have found this site years ago!! It may have put a better perspective on all of my 30 pain? I’m now 33. Still burdened with some of the down sides of life. Hopefully after reading these things here I can start to feel a little better about myself. I can say it was a tough and dark day when I turned 30. Seemed like everyone was against me, and my ultimate goals were unreachable. However, yes in the last year I feel I have matured more. It can only get better. I can see things that would have gotten to me so much more in my twenties, not get to me as much now. Sure there’s a lot of the same old frustrations. Maybe it does get better? Like everyone else here…I’m still trying. Goals still aren’t beaten. I’d love to bring more of this into my life, and hopefully share more great things happening. I still have dreams. It’s such a relief to know that I wasn’t alone in my thinking that 30 was bad. Thanks for making this site!!!

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